by Ian Froeb
Dear Mr. Froeb,
Pursuant to your recent inquiry about the events of the evening of Wednesday, February 20, I can confirm that there are numerous records of a gaucho matching your description -- your description, I mean, of his behavior more so than his appearance, as his appearance will have changed dramatically over the years, to say nothing of the decades, the course of nature being what it is -- throughout our archives.
Indeed, the gaucho's physical appearance remains as much a mystery as his name. Many of the encounters occurred, as did yours, at night, and many of the observers were distracted, as were you, not merely by the surprise of his standing before them but by the strong, dare I say overpowering, odor of woodsmoke.
As best as our researchers have been able to determine, the photo that I have attached to this email is the only extant photograph of the gaucho -- and even this is in dispute. (Not a few long-term friendships at the academy have suffered from the different interpretations of the evidence.) Here are the facts: the date on the back of the photograph corresponds to when we believe the gaucho left Brazil for the United States, and the inscription on the back -- 'I am coming for you, strong-rumped red woman of mine' -- matches the details of his narrative.
How the academy came into possession of this photograph -- a postgraduate fellow found it among a box of postcards at an estate sale in Halifax, Nova Scotia -- is perhaps the main argument against its provenance. There is no known link between the gaucho or the famous (or, if you belong to a certain camp of the academy, apocryphal) 'strong-rumped red woman of mine' and Halifax, Nova Scotia, or any of the Maritime Provinces or, for that matter, Canada as a whole.
I am truly sorry that I cannot provide more information than this. If it is any comfort, know that you have now been indoctrinated into a fellowship of men intrigued and baffled by the gaucho -- or perhaps I should call him The Gaucho.
Regards, Oscar Hidalgo Gomes-Martins Acting President, International Institute for Churrascaria Studies São Paulo, Brazil
Visit Gut Check tomorrow to read my review of Brazikat Brazilian Steak & Seafood House (172 Carondelet Plaza, Clayton; 314-727-1007).